Coq au Vin

chicken licken

September 30th 2010

Coq au Vin is a traditional, French dish, which supposedly goes back 2000 years or more. The French translates as, cockerel with wine, and generally one would cook this with an old bird, since the long, slow, cook in wine, tenderises the meat. Last week I got 2 free range Scottish chicken from the butcher, for £3 each. After roasting one, I decided that it was a little tough and therefore the second bird needed slow cooking in stock or wine.

Coq au Vin recipe:

a 4 lb or 5 lb chicken (this is ideal for an older tough bird, but any chicken would be fine)
4 or 5 slices of streaky bacon, chopped (pancetta or lardons in traditional recipes)
20 shallots (or 2 large onions if shallots aren’t available)
6 pieces of garlic
2 sticks of celery
2 carrots
10 small to medium mushrooms
chopped parsley
some extra virgin olive oil
4 oz butter
a few slugs of brandy
a bottle of red wine (traditionally Burgundy)
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
a bouquet garni
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons of plain flour

chop chop

Joint your chicken so that you have about 8 pieces. Heat a large cast iron casserole and add some olive oil and butter. When it’s hot, lightly brown you chicken all over – you want to colour it as opposed to burn it. Once browned, remove the chicken temporally in order to cook the vegetables. In Keith Floyd’s recipe, he calls for flaming the chicken with the brandy (nice idea, especially good for impressing friends). I often brown the chicken in a large cast iron frying pan whilst cooking the vegetables in the large casserole. I reason, that since I deglaze the frying pan and add that to the casserole with the chicken, I’m not loosing any flavour and I can cook the vegetables at the same time.

finger lickin’ good

So, fry your onions in the casserole and add the chopped bacon. When the bacon has coloured, add the finely chopped celery and carrot. Next add the garlic and finally the mushrooms. When the vegetables have all coloured, you add the browned chicken to the casserole, along with some salt and pepper plus the bouquet garni.

Sprinkle the flour over the chicken, pour on three quarters of the bottle of wine, the red wine vinegar and a couple of glugs of brandy. If like me you do the chicken in a separate pan, deglaze it (with a little wine and red wine vinegar) and add the liquid to the casserole. Bring your casserole up to the boil, put the lid on and place it into a preheated oven at 100º C.

I check the coq au vin after an hour to adjust the taste and check it’s looking right. The flour will have miraculously dissolved and you should have a deep red sauce.
Cook for another hour.

After 2 hours of cooking, remove the chicken temporarily (plus the bouquet garni permanently), add a knob of butter and heat the casserole on the hob to reduce and thicken the sauce. You can add a little more wine too, in order to bring back the flavour. Return the chicken to the sauce and serve with boiled or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the coq au vin. If you have time, coq au vin should also come with garlic croutons. Traditionally the sauce would be thickened with chicken blood.

coq au vin

Several recipes I’ve seen, suggest cooking for an hour or so the day before and then leaving coq au vin overnight, so that the chicken really absorbs the flavour, before recooking the next day.

About Mad Dog
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8 Responses to Coq au Vin

  1. Captain Blyth says:

    Hi Maddog TV Dinners,

    I was telling my partner (Captain Fuste of Brazil) about coq au vin just the other day, he hadn’t heard of it before, and he said that sounds……hmmmm… you are going to have to make that! So now I have the perfect recipe. Thanks!

    Also, I have a query. Captain Fuste really hates coriander. I love the food that it typically goes with. So when I want to make my next red lentil curry, is there an alternative to coriander that will bring a nice (yet non coriander style) punch to the meal?

    Captain Blyth

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Hi Captain Blyth,

    I’m glad you liked the coq au vin.

    Regarding coriander, is it the leaves or the seeds, which your partner hates? You could try using the other type. Cumin and and curry leaves might give you a kick, or parsley and basil for taste. There are some other types of coriander leaf, with different shapes and flavours too:
    Henriette’s Herbal Homepage

  3. I made a great variation on coq au vin–”rigatoni with braised chicken and saffron cream.” It was just unbelievably delicious!

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